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Special education department announces 2019 Dole Humanitarian Award winner

Friday, April 05, 2019

LAWRENCE — Shelly London, the innovative leader behind Understood.org, was selected to receive the 2019 Dole Humanitarian Award, presented by the Department of Special Education at the University of Kansas.

The Dole Humanitarian Award recognizes individuals with connections to the state of Kansas whose efforts have enhanced the quality of life for individuals with disabilities and their families.

The award will be presented to London at a ceremony at 4 p.m. Friday, April 26, at the Dole Institute of Politics. The event is free and open to the public, and it does not require an RSVP.

London, who earned both a bachelor’s degree in journalism and an MBA from KU, was selected to receive the 2019 Dole Humanitarian Award for her work as the founding president emeritus of the Poses Family Foundation. In collaboration with 14 other nonprofit partners, the foundation launched Understood.org, which supports nearly 2 million individuals each month with free innovative web-based materials that are altering the lives of countless learners. Understood.org has won a Webby Award, the leading international award honoring excellence on the internet, for best family/parenting website. The organization has also received recognition from the White House for its work in supporting parents and families of struggling learners. More information about the Poses Family Foundation and Understood.org can be found here.

“As a fellow Jayhawk, Shelly has strived to exemplify giving back to the community. Under her leadership and vision, Understood.org has reached and impacted millions of parents and family members who previously had limited access to supports, strategies and solutions to assist their child with learning and attention issues,” said Sean Smith, professor and chair of the awards committee for the special education department. “Through her collaborative spirit, she has brought together key partners and utilized resources to alter the lives and learning outcomes for countless struggling learners.”

While technically retired from an exemplary career as a senior corporate executive in marketing and communications, London continues to form collaborative relationships to foster ongoing initiatives, including The Family Dinner Project and a computer game called Quandary that builds ethic skills, which won Game of the Year at the 2013 Games for Change Festival. London also teaches ethics at New York University’s Stern School of Business.

The inaugural Dole Humanitarian Award was presented in 2008 to native Kansan and former U.S. Sen. Robert Dole in recognition of his lifetime of distinguished public service to the disability community. Additional former recipients of the award include Ross and Marianna Beach, Richard Schiefelbusch, as well as Gene and Gretchen Budig.

The top-ranked Department of Special Education is housed in the KU School of Education. The School of Education is located in Lawrence and is a nationally ranked school, preparing educators as leaders.    

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